You should read Matthew Teague’s story

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 28, 2016

I am pleased to report I am a Vicksburg resident, all moved in to a house I love here, thanks to the help of some good friends.

My lifelong best friend’s baby sister, Audley Case Nugent, put her life on hold and basically took over my move, spending three days here organizing my new home and life. I couldn’t have done it without her and am forever grateful.

I’m also grateful to some new friends in Vicksburg who helped out, too. Marcia Surratt, who is the wife of reporter John Surratt, mentioned she would help me unpack. I didn’t take her seriously. However, bright and early on the day the movers were unloading my things, Marcia knocked on my door. She almost single-handedly unpacked my kitchen. This lady has skills.

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The movers couldn’t get my dryer hooked up — something about not having the right number of prongs for the electrical outlet — and Jimmy Mullen, who is production manager at The Post, came to my rescue.

Mullen is married to former longtime Post managing editor Karen Gamble, who unpacked and arranged my pantry while Mullen hooked up my dryer.

I am thrilled to wake up here every morning and go to bed here every night. I truly hope it’s a very long time before any of my possessions have to be packed up in a box and moved again.

Thank you to Audley and her husband, Scott Nugent, Marcia and Jimmy and Karen. I appreciate you much.

Speaking of Karen Gamble, a friend sent me a link to a recent Clarion-Ledger story about a former Vicksburg resident, Matthew Teague, who won a prestigious magazine writing award — the 2016 essay division of the National Magazine Awards.

As it turns out, Teague grew up in Vicksburg and covered high school sports for The Vicksburg Post as a teenager back in the 1990s.

Teague’s award-winning story, “The Friend: Love Is Not a Big Enough Word,” was written for Esquire and published in that magazine in May 2015. It details his wife’s two-year battle with cancer and the role a friend played in helping them both through it.

Gamble was running The Vicksburg Post newsroom during the time Teague worked here. The Clarion-Ledger talked to her for its story on Teague. She told the C-L reporter, “I couldn’t breathe after reading it the first time. I read it a couple of more times after that, and I had the same reaction each time. Breathless.”

That’s when I stopped reading the C-L story and followed its link to “The Friend.” Gamble did not exaggerate. The story leaves you breathless. In fact, it took my breath several times before I finished it.

It leaves you with many other feelings, too.

First impression: man, this guy can write. Second impression: cancer sucks, and tears us down, strips us of every ounce of dignity — really takes away who we are — and spits us out onto the hard ground, alone and broken, everything unfamiliar. Third impression: that which does not kill us leaves us forever changed — sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

While reading Teague’s story, I felt like the worst kind of voyeur, like I was peering into a private life in which I had no business. Yet somehow I think I’m a better person for having read it.

His story is honest, raw, shocking and amazing. You should read it. Google it to find a link, or go to

Jan Griffey is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at